Rank 0-2 NFL teams based on their chances of making the playoffs again

Post-season stakes games are the funniest aspect of sports. The great thing about the NFL is that these high-risk encounters come into play Very at the beginning of the season.

Since 1970, only 9.5% of NFL teams have made it to the playoffs after starting the 0-2 season. For teams that lost both games in the first two weeks of the season, every game thereafter counts towards playoff hopes. Getting to 10 wins is the surest way to reach the playoffs, which becomes an increasingly difficult task after losing games to start the season.

However, all is not lost. That 9.5% is much higher than nothing! Five teams started the season winless. Here they are, ranked according to their chances of making the playoffs.

The Bengals were a clear candidate for regression this season. They experienced great plays last season and made their way to the Super Bowl with strong defensive play and tough times from offense and special teams. While expecting them to double the last two months of their Super Bowl run may have been unrealistic, the Bengals played much worse than anyone could have predicted in the first two games of the season.

Cincinnati’s offensive line was a big deal, having been completely gutted by Micah Parsons and the Cowboys during their second week defeat. Not what the Bengals were hoping for with the investments they made during the off-season. La’el Collins had a tough start to the season, but to be fair, he’s been paired with Parsons and TJ Watt in consecutive weeks, arguably the two best edge rusher in the league.

The Bengals may not replicate their Super Bowl series from a season ago, but they are also the best bet to bounce back among any NFL teams that started 0-2. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The eye exam isn’t doing the Bengals any favors, but statistically they have had an alarming start on offense. Bengals are 30th in yards per game (4.3), 31st in net adjusted yards per attempt (3.4), 30th in success rate (38.6%) and 23rd in predicted points added per game (-0.097). They also granted a layoff on 12.7% of their dropbacks and have five turnovers in the season. They just struggled to get the games off the ground during this initial slump.

Fortunately, the Bengals have more than enough talent to be one of the rare 0-2 teams making their way to the playoffs after a slow start. Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are all capable of smashing defenses and scoring touchdowns in groups. It is extremely unlikely that the Bengals attack will continue to play so badly, but the offensive line is again a concern. Collins was not the player who was at the height of his time with the Cowboys and the rest of the line also struggled.

The Bengals’ talent of skill can bring them back to the playoffs and they have received a blessing by being only one game behind the rest of AFC North for the time being. If one of these teams has the ability to catch fire and win enough games to dig out of this hole, this is it.

The Raiders started the season 0-2, but like the Bengals, they have the high-end talent to pull themselves out of this early routine. It seems a bit irresponsible to cancel a crime starring Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Derek Carr is a good enough quarterback to get those guys spinning the ball effectively, and the Raiders would be sitting 1-1 if they could just make a tackle on Kyler Murray.

If anything, the first story of the Las Vegas season shows two things. First, the NFL can be very fickle. The Raiders now face an uphill battle to reach the playoffs because they left Murray ran 84.9 yards with a two-point conversion. Second, it shows how close talent teams are to each other. The Raiders played hard against the Los Angeles Chargers in the first week of the season before losing to the Cardinals in extra time. If a rebound here or there goes differently, the Raiders would be a strong position to make the playoffs.

Of course, their biggest obstacle is the division they play in. They still have two games left against Patrick Mahomes and still have to face Russell Wilson and the Broncos (which seems less challenging than a few months ago). These are the parties that the Raiders will have to win at AFC West now that they have lost their first two games of the season. It is possible, but starting the season with a comeback against Mahomes, Wilson and Justin Herbert is not an enviable position.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have been going through the off-season as a team that needed to rearrange their roster for long-term success, and they look like that to start the season. After a close defeat to the New York Giants in the opening, they were hit by the Bills on Monday night, leading rookie Malik Willis to replace star Ryan Tannehill in the fourth quarter.

Less than a calendar year after being the highest seeded in the AFC, the Titans find themselves with a lot of questions. Will Derrick Henry find success behind a slammed offensive line? Will Tannehill be able to recover the magic he had since he initially took over the initial job? Will the Tennessee defense solidify after being burned in Buffalo?

Mike Vrabel is a good coach and the Titans have a recent history of sustained success – returning to the playoff race is not out of the question. Their greatest help is their division. The Indianapolis Colts look like the worst team in the NFL while the Houston Texans are not far behind. The Titans have shifted their vision from short to long term with their offseason, but they still have a good chance of making the playoffs.

Things aren't going that far for Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers.  (Winslow Townson / AP images for Panini)

Things aren’t going that far for Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers. (Winslow Townson / AP images for Panini)

Carolina Panthers

Baker Mayfield hasn’t been the answer for the Panthers so far, surprisingly enough. Mayfield is in 32nd place in ESPN’s QBR with a score of 23.7 (out of 100). The Carolina bout had some productive moments in the second half of their week 1 defeat to the Browns, but this season they’ve mostly spit and struggled to get off the ground.

The Panthers have the structure of a team that can reach the playoffs, but they aren’t consistent enough where that seems like a reasonable possibility. However, the future prospects are not entirely bad. They have direction on both sides of the ball, but the combination of Mayfield and what appears to be a lame coach in Matt Rhule wasn’t enough to get the Panthers to the finish line in their games.

The fate of their season will be decided over the course of next month, with tough games against the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams on the way. Good luck, Rhule and Mayfield, the legacies are at stake in no time.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta has been more competitive this season than expected, but this is still a team far from the competition. Neither side of the ball was consistent and Marcus Mariota was a roller coaster as a quarterback. Newcomer wide receiver Drake London was excellent to start the season, but the Falcons didn’t get enough production from Kyle Pitts.

Maybe the Falcons’ offense can get hot if they find a way to incorporate their incredible talent into the passing game, but right now they’re still a little upset. The Falcons have flashy talent on both sides of the ball, but depth issues will prevent this team from being truly competitive and racking up enough wins to return to the playoffs.

Atlanta may actually be exuberant enough to anger a much better team down the road, but for now the playoffs are a stretch for what this team should be hoping to achieve.

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